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Protesting Greek farmers drive tractors to parliament

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Protesting Greek farmers drive tractors to parliament

Greek Farmers Hold Protest Rally With Tractors

    Farmers from across Greece drove their tractors to Athens on Tuesday, stepping up weeks of protests over rising costs, foreign competition and catastrophic flooding.

    As they drove through the streets of the capital they honked their horns to cheers and waves from passersby. Dozens of tractors parked in front of parliament and more were set to join.

    “Livestock farming died today,” read a banner on one tractor with a black coffin attached to its front.

    The protest echoes grievances in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy, where farmers have staged similar demonstrations.

    < p>“No farmers, no food, no future,” a banner on a tractor in Athens read.

    Greek farmers’ unions have been in negotiations with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government for weeks, but say the measures announced so far don’t go far enough to meet their concerns.

    “We are coming to Athens right now to fight for a better tomorrow, ” said farmer Konstantinos Katselis.

    “Everything is very expensive,” he said. “Petrol, fertiliser.”

    At the last toll booths on the national highway some 30 km outside the capital, farmers waved Greek flags and cheered each other on as they passed through.

    Hundreds of farmers with about 150 tractors were expected to join the rally , scheduled for 1630 GMT, and try to pile pressure on the government, which has already offered discounts on power bills and a one-year extension of a tax rebate for agricultural diesel to the end of 2024.

    On Monday night, farmers lined up their tractors and pickups along highways as they gathered at a meeting point in central Greece where they spent the night before heading to Athens.

    “There are many problems, most of all the fuel and the energy costs,” said one of the protesting farmers, Christos, in the central Greek town of Kastro.

    “Last year was catastrophic for farmers, we did not produce grapes, we did not produce olive oil, we produced a bit of cotton but it was bought for nothing.

    On Tuesday morning, dozens of farmers arrived by boat at the port of Piraeus from the southern island of Crete. More farmers were expected to arrive by bus from other areas across Greece.

    The government reiterated on Monday that it is willing to discuss a more permanent tax rebate scheme in the future, but it had no fiscal room for any further concessions this year. Greece has been recovering from a decade-long financial crisis.

    “We have nothing more to give,” Mitsotakis said during an interview with Greek Star TV on Monday evening.

    “I think farmers acknowledge this and know very well that the government has probably exceeded even their expectations, especially on the power bills issue. ”

    He said the rally was expected to be largely symbolic, but farmers appeared determined to push for more concessions.

    “Everyone needs to stand together, because everyone is going to win from our fight – not just us,” farmer Spyros Hatzis said.

    (Reuters)

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